Transcript of The Voice of the Elders
- 1 Cadarn: The Great Divide, Part II
- 2 Crwys: Song of an Exiled Tree
- 3 Iorwerth: A history of Elf-Human Relations
- 4 Trahaearn: Letter to Gruffydd
- 5 Volume II
Cadarn: The Great Divide, Part II[edit | edit source]
It was not until the entire army stood in the sunlight of Tirannwn that we felt safe from the terrors of the Underground Pass.
By this time the bloodshed in the streets of Prifddinas had ended, and Lord Iorwerth was firmly in control. He spoke to the army from the top of the wall, and demanded that Baxtorian's kingdom in the east be divided between the eight elven clans, just as the city was. The irony of him - self-proclaimed ruler of the city - demanding this was palpable, and it was clear that this was a front for his personal ambition.
The walls of Prifddinas had been built to whitstand the armies of the gods, so a frontal assault would doubtless have failed. Baxtorian ordered his army to besiege the city, but his army was gradually worn down by Iorwerth skirmishers. Prifddinas - self-sufficient - could not be starved out, and it became clear that the siege could only end in Baxtorian's defeat.
Baxtorian's scouts eventually found a way for a small squad to secretly enter the city, and the king hatched a daring plan: to rescue the clan elders from their imprisonment in the city, take them to the Grand Library, and have them sing the secret song that would revert the city to its seed. The plan would have to be performed soon, as the Iorwerth soldiers would soon find and block the secret entrance.
On the night that the plan was due to take place, a messenger arrived through the Well of Voyage to say that Baxtorian's kingdom in the east had collapsed, and that Queen Glarial - who had been ruling in his absence - had gone missing.
Baxtorian knew that the chance to save Prifddinas might never come again, so he put thought of his beloved queen out of his mind and snuck in to the city with a squad of warriors. They worked secretly for several week to locate and free the clan elders, then gathered them in the Grand Library and sang the Song of Reversion. I watched from outside as the spires of Prifddinas shrank into the crater like a withering plant.
With the city lost to both Baxtorian and Iorwerth, Baxtorian sent the clan leaders into hiding and then rushed with his army back through the Underground Pass. He found that the human subjects of his kingdom had overthrown their elf rulers, and that Queen Glarial was nowhere to be found.
It is possible that a decisive strike against the human rebels at that point could have cushed them and restored Baxtorian's kingdom. The king, however, was too consumed by worry for Glarial to think of this. He spread his army thinly, having every elf search the land for his queen. When, at last, he was forced to admit that she was likely dead, the new human kingdoms were too well established and his army was too weak to threaten them.
Baxtorian, consumed by grief, used what few resources he still had in his former kingdom to build a monument to Glarial. He then entered the tomb and never emerged.
With Baxtorian gone, the elves who remained east of the mountains travelled through the Underground Pass one final time to make new homes in Tirannwn. They found that, although the city had been reverted to seed, Lord Iorwerth and his army were still in control of its site. With both the city and the eastern kingdom lost to them, the elves had no option but to live in the forest of Isafdar. They settled in the town of Lletya, hidden by twisting pathways from Lord Iorwerth's scouts. So began 'the great divide', in which our race has been divided between the Iorwerth clan within the empty Prifddinas field, and the rebel elves of Isafdar. I pray to Seren that a way is someday found to re-unite our people and re-grow our city.
Crwys: Song of an Exiled Tree[edit | edit source]
Leaves drink up the sun
Years pass in peaceful rhythm
Oh, to be a tree!
Rustling in the leaves
My wayward siblings, roving
Faster than my cares
But there is sickness
My roots drink bitter water
Poisoned is the waste!
A perfect acorn
Child of the ancient forest
Grows a stunted oak
Quickness in my sap
Sun that warmed leaves, blinds new eyes
Tree walks on two legs
Forest of crystal
We sing, it grows, but does not live
Or differently lives
Jostled once again by elves
Oh, to be a tree!
Crystal walls around
Sick brother forest outside
Poison waste beneath
Iorwerth: A history of Elf-Human Relations[edit | edit source]
Most of the population of Prifddinas was preserved in Crystal form when the city was reverted. For them, the last days of Baxtorian's kingdom are a recent memory, and they know nothing of more recent history. Elves who were born in Iorwerth-occupied Prifddinas (such as myself), or as rebels in the forest, lived through the intervening centuries but often know little of events that took place beyond the mountains. I therefore feel it is important to set out the history elf-human relations in the past few hundred years.
It surprises many elves how readily the humans sided with the Cadarn clan, heirs to Baxtorian's kingdom. Baxtorian established his kingdom through war. It was a relatively bloodless conquest - the human warlords with their bronze weapons knew they were no match for Baxtorian's crystal-armed legions, and surrendered quickly - but it was conquest nonetheless. Once established, Baxtorian's kingdom was one in which elf lords ruled over a human peasant class.
For modern humans, however, Baxtorian's kingdom is history that has passed into myth. It is easy for them to see works of art created by elven nobles, and forget the labour of the human serfs that made those artworks possible. They see the departure of the elves from their lands not as their liberation but as the end of a golden age.
In any case, Lord Iorwerth's coup in Prifddinas was not motivated by any thought about Baxtorian's human subjects. His stated reason was that Baxtorian's position as king beyond the mountains made his clan more powerful than the others, and that power needed to be challenged. Only after did it become clear that this was merely an excuse for his ambition.
Few elves, even in the Iorwerth clan, know about the atrocities committed in human lands by the Iorwerth Death Guard. The Death Guard turned half of a human city into a prison, and used its population as slave labour while digging for the Temple of Light. It is little wonder that some humans blame the Iorwerth clan collectively for Lord Iorwerth's actions.
Finally, purely by coincidence, the Iorwerth clan's colours and symbol are associated with evil in many human cultures. We look at a black spiked skull and see a symbol of strength and intellect, but humans think of aggression and death. Please be aware of this when dealing with humans visiting our city.
Trahaearn: Letter to Gruffydd[edit | edit source]
Quit your whining. Yes, I gave your prototype dextrous exoskeleton to the human. You should count yourself lucky it still exists. I certainly wasn't going to give it back to you after what happened.
Your work on the automata was an abject failure. I ordered you to create machines capable of defeating any humans or other wild animals that broke into my cave. If you had followed my designs more precisely then that is what they would have done. But you deviated from my designs and produced inferior work: even though the automata outnumbered the human three to one, they were unable to defeat it!
Never mind the fact that the human's finding me led to the re-growing of Prifddinas, and that if the automata had worked as intended, the Trahaearn clan might now be living under Iorwerth rule. The fact that your failure led to the salvation of our city does not excuse that failure!
There was also evidence of shoddy workmanship in your work on my life support exoskeleton. It malfunctioned, leaving me unable to wake up. The problem was simple that even a human could spot it and repair it - so why did this glaring flaw not present itself when you built the thing in the first place? Again, if you had followed my designs exactly then there would have been no failure.
I am forced to wonder if your 'failures' are not instances of incompetence after all, but acts of deliberate sabotage. It feels almost as if you do not want to see me become the immortal leader of an unstoppable army of soulless mechanical elves.
Try harder in future.
Volume II[edit | edit source]
Amlodd: What I did in the Spirit Plane[edit | edit source]
One may spend years training the mystic art of summoning and know the Spirit Plane only as the place from which summoned creatures come. Even I once thought of it as a backstage where actors wait for their entrance cue. Ah, but how wrong I was! The Spirit Plane is vaster and more wondrous than I could have imagined. Let me tell you about my time there!
I arrived unarmed, and was immediately attacked by a snarling giant wolpertinger. I suffered cuts to my arms from its fiendish teeth, but after a brief struggle I kicked it into a ravine where it disappeared from sight.
I found a stream in which to clean my wounds, and removed my shirt to make bandages. I then fashioned a spear and bow from local wood, and set out to hunt the beast!
I found my enemy on a rocky outcrop at the top of a vast waterfall. It too had been wounded by our combat, but its pain only made it more ferocious. My first arrow struck true but did not kill it, and before I could let loose another, it was upon me - a tempest of teeth and claws. I pierced it with my spear and it fell, but with a sweep of its leg, it took me with it, down into the waterfall. We wrestled even as we plunged into the swirling river. At last, my foe was dead and I crawled panting onto the bank.
But our fight had been observed! A band of steel titans stood over me. In my exhausted state, I could not resist as they took me to their mountain in the centre of the Spirit Realm and brought me before their king.
The Titan King said that I was to act as his beast of burden and carry his trophies as he toured his realm. But Lord Amlodd is no one's pack yak! My strength had returned, so I challenged the King to a wrestling match. It was close, and a lesser elf would no doubt have been crushed in his steel grip, but at last I stood victorious!
The titans all cheered. I had freed them from oppression at the hands of the Titan King! They showered me with gifts and made me their new ruler.
For hundreds of years I reigned benevolently, touring my kingdom and meeting many strange and wonderful creatures. Ah, the stories I could tell! But those are stories for another time.
POSTSCRIPT: Lady Hefin claims that the Spirit Plane does not always obey the normal laws of logic, but can be 'a dream-place that acts out the subconscious desires of whoever enters it'. This theory is ridiculous and I choose not to believe it.
Hefin: A vision of the Light Creatures[edit | edit source]
I stood on the high balcony of the Tower of Voices. The city, newly grown, stretched out beneath me: its crystal bones bare, its flesh of living elves still to come. Behind me, the heart of Seren roiled the shrunken core of our scattered god. I wondered whether Seren could ever love and protect us as she had before she shattered herself. I wondered whether we had need of one thus broken.
Then I saw them: blue on blue, light on light, brightness in the clouds. I stared as they danced, unnatural and yet beautiful.
The child in me wished to play with them, to interact. Experimentally, I sang a beam of blue from a crystal. The lights flocked around it, blue lights on blue beam on blue sky. One of them slid down the beam and floated before me.
This was not mere light, my spiritual sense told me. There was a mind here, as of an animal, emotion unchained by thought. I opened my mind, reached out to touch it, and saw:
A crystal city, like but unlike ours. Its spires reached to the sun and drew its light down so that every surface flashed with colour. From these rainbow beams the light creatures were born. They were not the city's builders. Its builder was unlike any people I have seen, and they were surrounded - in the light creature's memory - by an aura of grief, like the memory of a long-dead loved one.
The builders of the rainbow city had worshipped no god. When the gods went to war, their opening salvo blasted the city to nothing and left no survivors save the light creatures. They had no god to protect them.
My heart ached for the creatures and their loss. On behalf of my city, I offered them refuge. Prifddinas is not their long-lost home, but it is similar enough that it will give them some comfort.
And I praised Seren that she had remained with us, even shattered into a half-sane heart and a city of crystal bones. In a world in which gods go to war, its people are lost without gods to protect them. Seren is ours.
Ithell: An Architectural history of Prifddinas[edit | edit source]
Gazing at the crystal spires, it is easy to believe that Prifddinas has always been a city of crystal, and a young Ithell apprentice can be tempted to neglect her other studies and focus only on crystal singing. This was certainly my view, growing up among the wooden buildings of Lletya and hearing tales of the crystal city of which my home was but a pale reflection. An examination of Prifddinas's history, however, reveals that crystal has not always been its primary material, and that wood and stone are equally worthy of study by our clan.
The Goddess found our race in a world of trees, where it is likely that they built exclusively with wood. She gave us crystal which she produced from her body, and taught us how to sing it into shapes: transparent steel-like crystal for our weapons; opaque crystal like stone for our buildings. We did not have it in the quantities we have now, however, and wood was still our primary material. When she brought us to this world, the city of Prifddinas was built almost entirely of wood with small amounts of crystal. The first Tower of Voices was carved from a great tree, much like the Grand Tree now inhabited by the gnomes. When the God Wars came - its soldiers setting the world aflame - Lord Berwyn Ithell fortified the city with a great granite wall, and stone gradually replaced wood as our main building material.
Only at the end of the God Wars did crystal become the primary material of Prifddinas. The Goddess shattered herself into myriad fragments, and it is these that we use when we sing crystal buildings into shape. Our city is composed of the body of our shattered Goddess.
The first crystal Prifddinas lasted only a few elven generation. In response to the Iorwerth's coup, the clan elders reverted the crystal city to seed form. The Iorwerth clan occupied the site of Prifddinas and built what they intended to be a temporary camp, using wood, and canvas. Lord Iorwerth's plan to quickly summon the Dark Lord failed and the 'temporary' camp stood for longer than he originally intended.
Lord Iorwerth's plan never came to fruition, and our human savior brought the clan leaders together to re-grow the city from its seed. The current city is nearly identical to the crystal Prifddinas established after the God Wars, with only a few details changed based on our current needs. Looking around, you will notice that the city incorporate wood, glass and stone in addition to crystal. These should be seen not as areas of imperfection, but as reminders of our city's rich architectural history.
Meilyr: Notes on the Great Elixir[edit | edit source]
You asked me for notes on the herbs and potions I used to survive while waiting for the city to be re-grown. Yes, you're right that I brewed a potion to extend my lifespan, although that was not the potion's only effect - it has also altered my perception of time - made the long wait less arduous than it might have otherwise been.
I think that my potions won't be me much help to you, sorry. It is true that elves live naturally longer than humans do, but it is more than that. Elf lifespan is - malleable. The legend is that Seren stretched us - stretched us through time, I mean - when she first found us on Tarddiad. In our original state, before Seren, elves probably did not live any longer than humans did.
In fact, it could be that elves were originally humans, and all differences between you and us are due to Seren's changes. Perhaps many mortal races - even all - were once the same, and the differences are just the work of the gods. We will probably never know.
Anyway, most elves live about five hundred years, but there are many examples of elves living much longer, through various means. I used my potions. Lady Trahaearn used her creepy exoskeleton. Lady Hefin stayed young thanks to prayer and clean living (she is so dull - I can never get her to try any herbs). Lord Crwys did not age as a tree, and Lord Amlodd did not age in the spirit realm. Lord Iorwerth (the old one, not young Iestin Edern) must have had his own technique - probably blood magic or devouring human souls or something similarly unpleasant.
Then there were the historical elves that were said to have lived thousands of years. Baxtorian was said to be one of the first elves to arrive in Gielinor - thousands of years later, he is defending Prifddinas in the God Wars - and thousands of years later, he is establishing his kingdom east of the mountains. A lot of that's myth, and it could be that there were several different kings with the same name, but at least some of those kings probably had unnaturally long lifespan.
My point is, there are many different ways to make an elf live longer? I do not think any of those ways would work on humans. I bet an Elixir of Immortality for humans is possible, but it would be a lot of work.